In spite of Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi’s denial, Assam is burning from hatred and communal passions. It is happening at the worst possible time in the rainy season, after widespread floods which devastated large parts of the state. The communal and ethnic clashes have caused about 100 deaths, and displaced three to four lakh poor Assamese, both Muslims and Bodos. Besides this about 30,000 dwellings of extremely poor families have been burned making the inmates homeless. The clashes have disrupted movement of trains which caused obstruction in normal supplies to North East states. The situation is fraught with grave dangers as there are talks of population transfer of Bodos and Muslims in adjoining districts.
Officials of Bodoland Tribal Council (BTC) have openly declared that they are in no hurry to rehabilitate the displaced persons as they fear further escalation of conflict between the two communities if they go back to their old areas. They say that there are not enough security forces to maintain communal peace. It is really a very pathetic situation which deserves utmost attention in the national interest. It appears as if the two communities belong to two countries and not part of the same nation. It has been reported that displaced Muslims from Kokrajhar district have crossed over to Dhubri district which has a sizeable Muslim population and the Bodos from Dhubri are taking refuge in Kokrajhar. This division based on communal lines and polarisation of communities is fraught with great danger of the future of the plural state which is a conglomeration of Hindus, Muslims, Bodos, tribals and other communities who speak Assamese, Bengali and several other languages and dialects.
BTC Deputy Chief Executive Khampa Borgoyari has put the number of the displaced in the two districts, Kokrajhar and Dhubri, to 1,50,000 Muslims and 50,000 Bodos. Independent sources reject these figures and assert that at least 3 to 4 lakh persons are displaced and made refugees in their own country.
The need of the hour is reconciliation, adjustment and cooperation by the leaders of both communities, and saying no to communal sharks and petty-minded politicians of different hues and colours who always have to fish in the troubled waters. Assam has to fight poverty, ignorance and inhumanity. Its below the poverty line population should not be instigated to commit inhuman atrocities. Let human rights activists and well-wishers of the country rush to Assam to save it from further shameful flare-ups and lay the foundation of permanent peace, amity and brotherhood. And the state and central governments must crush the trouble-shooters with an iron hand and maintain law and order at any cost.